Wake up Cricket Australia
Paul Ryan | March 30, 2018
Before a ball was bowled this season cricket fans were subjected to an ugly pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the players.
Some of the biggest names in the game used social media to air their grievances, and while some fans supported the players, others were openly critical. As it was open to the public, fans knew more and understandably more opinions were formed.
I’d hasten to say the tension and combative nature of the dispute eroded whatever trust there was between the governing body and the players.
Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship, whether it be family, a friendship, in business or in sport. Without it, there is no solid foundation to build anything positive and lasting.
Last Saturday in Capetown we watched something more akin to an episode of Fawlty Towers, than Test Match Cricket. Something was up and it was clear it was going to be big and potentially quite damaging.
After a day’s play, press conferences follow and blind Freddy could have predicted the line of questioning in this one.
As soon as Bancroft undid the cord of his trousers team management should have been on the phone to head office. I don’t care if it was after midnight in Australia, get on the phone to the CEO and Chairman, and wake them up.
It’s called crisis management, and it’s an integral part of any successful organisation.
What happened next… well, it’s been a very sad week for cricket and lovers of the game.
I am sad and I am angry.
Before I go on I’d like to add another certainty in life. There's death, taxes, and I’d like to add self-interest.
It seems it was in everyone’s self-interest to come out and condemn the players, and frankly, in some instances, it was ridiculously hypocritical. Who would have thought our politicians could openly decry anyone and anything being premediated or calculated in an effort to conceal?
Leadership is about being proactive, not reactive. I’ve got some questions for Cricket Australia if you don’t mind.
How can you as the governing body of cricket in Australia, a huge brand, the custodian of the game, the sponsors, the fans and players of all ages, not have foreshadowed what was about to happen?
Where was your crisis management policy?
Why did you send two of your players into a press conference without preparation, instructing them to be open and “off the cuff” and tell the world what happened, before you even knew the full details of what, who and how yourselves?
Yes, I can hear some say “hang on, they are 28 and 25 years of age, earning a lot of money and one is the Captain of Australia”.
Fair point, and I’m not suggesting a cover-up. Many have made the comment that the captain underestimated the backlash. I’d suggest Cricket Australia did as well.
To the credit of Smith and Bancroft, they were very forthcoming
Cricket Australia is a big organisation and cricket is our national game, we love to be entertained. We love seeing the ball sail into the grandstand, off stumps cartwheeling towards the keeper and fielders in mid-air taking one-handed screamers.
The varying theatre of Tests, ODI and T20’s puts bums on seats and eyes on TV, phones, and iPads – it pays the bills.
The entertainment brings in the revenue, players are essential assets, and therefore Cricket Australia has a duty of care to them. Why then have they turned a blind eye to players testing the boundaries in their behaviour and indulgent in their actions?
I guess it helps when the team is winning.
Speaking of winning it was only a couple of years ago Peter Nevill was Australia’s Wicket Keeper (Tim Paine wasn’t keeping for Tasmania – gee I’d love to know why) and lost his place after a disastrous test against South Africa and ultimately his contract, it was deemed he was too quiet in the field.
The lesser skilled Matthew Wade, a renowned talker, sledger and combative keeper (it’s the Australian way), was then selected.
The fact that Nevill was dropped, a selection endorsed by Cricket Australia because he’s not a “talker”, conveyed an interesting message to players of all ages and fans alike.
To the sanctions.
Steve Smith was charged with having the knowledge of a potential plan and failure to take steps to prevent implementation of the plan.
David Warner was charged with developing the plan and instructing Bancroft to carry out it out.
Warner’s long list of misdemeanours are well documented and we all know, if you’re allowed to test the boundaries, the boundaries will be tested.
Cricket Australia not only allowed Warner to bring his street fighting qualities to the game, they further endorse it, making him vice-captain.
Warner puts bums on seats and eyes on any available screen when he bats, so when he’s been endorsed by his boss and the coach to bring his combativeness to the game, where does the filter start or finish.
What could Smith have done in the heat of the moment in a lunchtime dressing room, that Cricket Australia has been unable to do themselves in 8 years?
Smith was further charged with misleading the public. Look, he might have, but he seemed to be motivated by protecting the endorsed vice-captain and the young fella sitting beside him. Given the scenario, I’d call that leadership.
In recent days big-name sponsors have withdrawn their support and many will blame the players. Please don’t underestimate the impact of poor leadership from Cricket Australia to be a well-considered factor in their decision to withdraw their funds and brand.
Why would a business and its brand want to be associated with a sport that lacks crisis management skills to protect its own brand let alone theirs?
Former Australian Captain Michael Clarke Tweeted during the week
“Too many reputations on the line for the full story not to come out. Cape Town change room is a very small place!”
Clarke is 100% correct about the reputations.
Where does the trust factor sit today?